This guide shows you how to find and delete what's using the most space on your MacBook or iMac drive with the help of an application called DaisyDisk.
I remember, shortly after I purchased my MacBook Pro and rendering a few videos, my 500GB SSD drive space had vanished. I had no idea what was going on. It wasn't until I discovered the Final Cut Pro project backups were saved in one giant file that I managed to reclaim my space. That discovery was thanks to the Storage section in the About This Mac dialog window. That built-in tool is handy, but somewhat limited. That's when I sought out a piece of software designed specifically for the discovery of files consuming drive space on my MacBook. One of the first tools brought to my attention was DaisyDisk. I was quite surprised when the first app I found was exactly the one I was searching for.
DaisyDisk is a very well designed, one-trick pony of an application, that does exactly what it purports. It scans your drive and displays a very easy to use and interactive map of what's consuming your drive space, and allows you to delete offending files. This is one of those apps that should be considered a must-have, especially on devices with limited drive space. Of course, I never would have dreamed that 500GB could be considered "limited," but when dealing with multimedia, it's very easy to eat up drive space.
Let's install DaisyDisk and see just how easy it is to use.
First off, DaisyDisk is not free (although it does offer a 15 day free trial). A one-user license for the application costs $9.99. Trust me, this app is worth the price.
There are two routes to installation:
- Download from the official website
- From within the AppStore
If you install from the AppStore, it's just a matter of searching for DaisyDisk and clicking the price button to purchase and install. If you want to give the 15 day trial a go, you'll have to install from the DaisyDisk website. To do that, download the latest version and double-click the downloaded zip file, which will extract the executable from the compressed file. The executable will be placed in the same folder you downloaded the zip file into. If you double-click the executable, DaisyDisk will run and ask if you want to start the free trial or enter a license. If you've purchased a license, paste the key into the necessary section and you're good to go.
On first run, you'll be asked if you want to copy the executable to Applications. Go ahead and do this (otherwise you cannot update the application, as it's running in read and write mode).
That's it for the installation.
Using DaisyDisk is incredibly simple. From the main window ( Figure A), click the Scan button associated with the disk you want to check.
As you can see, DaisyDisk can also scan network-attached directories. I have three directories shared out, via Samba, from my Elementary OS desktop machine. I can scan those shares to see how the space is being used. I'm going to take a look at my local drive. Even without scanning, I am presented with how much space is remaining in the drive. Let's see what's using that space. Click the Scan button associated with Macintosh HD and DaisyDisk will dive into the drive. Within a few quick seconds, an interactive map will appear showing you the basic layout of what main directories house files using up your space ( Figure B).
If you click on one of the colored blocks, each representing a directory, DaisyDisk will open that directory and display subdirectories. Click on a subdirectory until you've finally reached the heart of the matter. This is where DaisyDisk starts to shine over other similar applications. When you find a large file you want to remove, you can click and drag it to the bottom left corner of the window. You can collect as many files as you need from as many locations as necessary. Once you've collected your files, DaisyDisk will report how large the collection of files you've saved for deletion and you can then click the Delete button to remove them ( Figure C).
Once you click the Delete button, you get a five second countdown timer that allows you to back out of the deletion. After the deletion is complete, you'll get a message to the tune of "Yeah-ha! Having 16.4 GB of extra space is always good!"
This process works just as seamlessly and quickly when working on network attached storage devices. The three Samba shares I have attached are handled almost as efficiently as if they were locally attached.
If you have a specific folder you want to scan, click the Scan Folder button at the bottom left corner of the main DaisyDisk window and you can select the folder to scan. It really is that easy.
Reclaim that space
You'll have a hard time finding an application that is better suited to help you locate and remove files that are taking up precious drive space on your MacBook or iMac. Put the DaisyDisk trial to task and see if it doesn't wind up your go-to space saver with macOS.
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